Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Dealer: East

Vul: Neither


K Q 10 5

J 5

10 3

A Q 10 7 2


J 8 7 3

A K Q 10 9


8 6 4


9 6 4 2

8 7 2

K 6 4

9 5 3



6 4 3

A Q J 9 8 7 5



South West North East
1 1 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
4 Pass 5 All Pass

Opening Lead: King

“Boldness, and again boldness, and always boldness!”

— Danton

During the auction North can build up a fair picture of his partner’s hand, once he has opened and made a jump rebid, Despite the clear absence of a heart stop, North’s high cards entitle him to proceed to five diamonds, which at worst will depend on a trump split or a successful finesse.


West’s opening lead is the heart king, and East has to be wide awake. He can see from the dummy and his own hand that the defense has no chance of making a trick in the black suits. Even if declarer is missing the club king, the finesse is working for declarer, so either the contract is down in top tricks, or the defenders must generate a trump trick.


As long as partner has both top hearts, which is probable, the contract can be set if dummy can be forced on the third round of hearts, so that East’s trump king cannot be picked up. Accordingly, East should echo in hearts to encourage his partner to play a third round, and once that is done, the contract cannot be made. Even if East is not sufficiently alive to make this play, it is probably the right defense for West to continue hearts unless East discourages hearts, then signals for spades on the second heart. West can see that prospects of making a club trick are poor (given the likely discards coming on the spades), and so the best hope of a third trick lies in trumps.


South Holds:

K Q 10 5
J 5
10 3
A Q 10 7 2


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 4 Pass
ANSWER: This auction shows a spade fit and a singleton diamond — a classic splinter bid, though not necessarily in a standard sequence. To cooperate in a slam venture, you need some extras, or a well-fitting minimum with extra shape. This hand does not quite qualify for a five-club cue-bid. Maybe with the club king instead of the queen I’d move on; here, it looks right to retreat to four spades.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact